tags: Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities

The Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities (MCDD) welcomes seven trainees this semester. The trainees are studying law, social work, health education and international affairs. Read about the MCDD’s trainees below.

A photo of Emma Barbato, Project HEAL trainee

Emma Barbato is a second-year law student at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in linguistics from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and her master’s degree in special education from Notre Dame of Maryland University. She has a passion for expanding inclusivity and opportunities for students with disabilities. After graduating from law school, she wants to pursue a career in health law to advocate for policies that expand the rights and access of the disability community. At Project HEAL (Health, Education, Advocacy, and Law), she is looking forward to developing her legal research skills, client advocacy skills and legal writing skills, as well as working with the families of Kennedy Krieger Institute.


A headshot of Annie Carver

Annie Carver is a second-year law student at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. She earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Rochester, and majored in political science and English. She is particularly passionate about disability rights and wants to do some form of disability advocacy after law school. At Project HEAL, she is looking forward to learning more about special education law and developing her legal research and writing skills.


A photo of Jennifer Cleofe, MCDD Trainee

Jennifer Cleofe is a senior at Towson University, majoring in health education and promotion. She is interested in advocacy for minority populations, including the LGBTQ+ community, racial minorities and children with disabilities. She developed her interest in disabilities while monitoring children with mental health and developmental disabilities in daycare and after-care settings. Her brief exposure inspired her to learn more about individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the hopes of better advocating for them in her future career. During her time at the MCDD, she hopes to develop her analytical and research skills, and learn more about community outreach efforts.


A photo of Matt Cowles, MCDD Trainee

Matt Cowles is an undergraduate student at the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University (GW), where he is studying international affairs with a concentration in security policy. After graduating from GW, he is considering attending law school to further help solve global issues  using the law, and is hoping that his time at Project HEAL will allow him the opportunity to both learn about the legal system and help his local community.


A photo of Jilliane Crescenzi, Project HEAL trainee

Jillianne Crescenzi is a second-year student at the University of Baltimore School of  Law with an interest in education law. This interest developed during her prior work experience in public schools, where she learned about the unique educational and social challenges children with disabilities experience daily. She also worked as a children’s librarian at Howard County Library System, where she planned STEM, social skills and girl power classes. Following a summer internship with Disability Rights Maryland, she is interning with Project HEAL this fall to learn more about the substantive legal challenges students with disabilities face in Maryland. She is an active volunteer, both in the community and at the University of Baltimore School of Law. As a lifelong advocate, her career goals include advocating for better health and education policies that will remove systemic barriers that keep children with disabilities from accessing the same benefits that other children receive. She believes it is not enough to have a system that keeps children from failing, and that systems must be intentionally designed for all students to succeed.


A headshot of Tracy Hinke

Tracy Hincke is currently completing her Master of Social Work and Master of Public Health degrees at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. She earned her undergraduate degree in family science at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her particular interests include health education and training program development, implementation and evaluation. She is interested in pursuing macro social work and has declared a concentration in child, adolescent and family health. She has completed several internships at hospitals and mental health agencies and plans to work with adolescents and young adults. She also serves as a research fellow for the University of Maryland School of Social Work, aiding professors in studies related to positive youth development and peer relationships. During her time at the MCDD, she hopes to gain a deeper understanding of the needs of individuals living with disabilities through research and information dissemination.


A photo of Kacie McDonald, MCDD Trainee

Kacie McDonald is a senior at Towson University majoring in health education and promotion. She has had an interest in serving people with disabilities since she spent a semester at the Hussman Center for Adults with Autism. She looks forward to expanding her knowledge and growing in the field of disabilities during her internship at the MCDD. She hopes to learn from the staff members of several of the MCDD’s initiatives, including Project HEAL, People On the Go Maryland and the Community and Professional Development Training Program. After completing her undergraduate degree, she plans to attend graduate school for occupational therapy, where she will continue to work with and advocate for people with disabilities and their families.